Spirit of the city

Hôtel-Dieu has played a prominent role in Lyon since the 12th Century. Located between the Rhône and Saône rivers in the Presqu’ile, or Peninsula, neighbourhood, this landmark operated as a hospital for more than eight centuries before closing in 2010. Since then, it has undergone a complete transformation, with more than 800 craftsmen making it one of the biggest private renovations of a classified site in France.

Now the historic complex has officially entered a new era with the launch of InterContinental Lyon – Hotel-Dieu following the phased opening of several boutiques, restaurants and bars. The hotel spans the building’s river-facing 360-metre façade with the soaring Soufflot dome now home to Le Dome bar and the courtyards behind coming to life with places to eat, drink and shop, pockets of lush greenery, and Le Tigre Yoga Club & Spa, along its shaded walkways.

To honour the landmark’s history, interior designer Jean-Philippe Nuel combined the building’s original architecture with sensitively curated modern design, paying tribute to Lyon’s prominence in silk with the printed fabric of silk houses such as Maison Verel de Belval. Silk screens, soft furnishings and thoughtful lighting add warmth to the natural stone floors and beamed ceilings. But the dome’s new bar is the focal point of the hotel, with plush furnishings, gold-leaf-adorned artwork and a backlit cocktail bar now beneath the 32-metre-high rotunda.

The hotel’s luxurious rooms and suites overlook the river, inner courtyards and Fourvière district – river-facing duplex suites come with double-height windows – and they’re all complemented with patterned silk panels and silk curtains that change colour with the light. An indulgent breakfast is laid out in the restaurant Epona and later in the day this is the setting for the fine dining plates of chef Mathieu Charrois who pays tribute to Lyon’s gastronomy with an added touch of creativity.

CAPITAL OF GASTRONOMY

In 1935 the famous food critic Curnonsky described Lyon as the ‘world capital of gastronomy’. Eminent chef Paul Bocuse then went on to elevate this city’s culinary reputation with his innovative approach to cuisine – visit his eponymous three-Michelin-starred restaurant by the Saône to try the dishes he won such acclaim for. Seek out a bouchon such as Café Comptoir Abel for a traditional Lyonnaise dining experience and try local delicacies at new indoor food market Les Halles Grand Hôtel-Dieu.

IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD

Lyon is an easy city to navigate. Borrow one of the hotel’s bikes to cycle along the banks of the Rhône towards Parc de la Tête d’Or and head out on foot to explore the UNESCO World Heritage old town, Vieux Lyon. While you’re here, go in search of the historic quarter’s hidden traboules – these interior passageways from the Middle Ages provide shortcuts through historic buildings and inner courtyards.

From US$302 per night / lyon.intercontinental.com

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